Tom Leip

SMWW Mentor & MLB, MLS, & NBA Consultant, 1956 - 2021

Mentor Definition: A mentor may share with the mentee information about his or her own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling. A mentor may help with exploring careers, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources. Tom was everything you want in a mentor and so much more.

SMWW is heartbroken by the loss of Tom from the SMWW Family. Tom Leip was the first faculty person SMWW hired in 2005. Years prior to mentoring at SMWW, Tom helped interns and employees alike advance their careers in the sports business. So it was natural for Tom to teach and mentor as part of the SMWW Faculty for over 16 years.

Tom spent all of his life in sports. First as a baseball player at William Jewel, where he was later inducted in the William Jewel College Athletics Hall of Fame. After college, Tom started his sports business career at Kansas City Star as a sports journalist. Tom spent over 40 years working in the minor leagues of baseball, hockey, and soccer, having recently held the role of President of Business Operations for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a Short-Season Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Tom's years of varied experience come through in his mentoring, having worked in community outreach, public and media relations, event planning, and staff development. Tom has assisted hundreds of SMWW graduates with acquiring jobs and internships with minor and major league teams.

Over 40 years of sports business, Tom grew a reputation and his friends scan the continent in every league and every sport. You couldn’t travel to any sporting event without folks stopping to visit with Tom. He always had a grin and the best attitude. With Tom’s varied background he was perfect to assist SMWW students in learning what they needed to know to attain jobs in sports. Tom always took it one step further, he would email out student resumes to folks he knew would appreciate a good hire.

Tom was a regular speaker at SMWW Career Conferences including Winter Baseball Meetings, NFL Combine, NBA Summer League, MLS Draft, and the NHL Draft. His sporting gigs included The Portland State University Athletics Associate Director, Portland Winterhawks, Spokane Indians GM, Executive Director of the Northern League, Portland Rockies VP, Game Face VP, PGE Park Director of Sales, FC Edmonton GM, Total Sports Entertainment, Hamilton Tiger Cats, and Avenir Switzerland Hockey team.

Feel free to share your memories of Tom and how he may have been an inspiration to you by emailing We will share them with the ones below.

Thoughts from Dr. Lynn Lashbrook (SMWW President)

Tom was a friend the first day I moved to Portland and was our first faculty member hired almost 20 years ago. From the very beginning, he was supportive of us expanding SMWW. We would not be successful without his help on our first course which built our educational framework.

He is going to be missed by all of us at SMWW. He was a tireless worker and the most dedicated dad to his children. Our thoughts go out to his wife Janice. He will forever be in our culture at SMWW.

Thoughts from Liz Lashbrook (SMWW Executive Director)

Tom was our "go-to guy". It didn’t matter the topic or the sport, he could fill in as a faculty member, moderate a panel, or speak on a panel. With that huge grin of his, he was the first to jump up and assist in every way possible. Tom was a positive energy wherever he went. He helped so many of our SMWW students advance their careers. A visit with him was guaranteed to brighten your day. Excellent friend, father, husband, and SMWW Mentor.

Thoughts from Dan Evans (SMWW Faculty & Former LA Dodgers GM)

Tom was an exceptional man, and I'm grateful that our paths crossed because of SMWW.

Thoughts from Bobby Brett (Spokane Indians Owner)

Tom Leip was my first hire after we purchased the Spokane Indians Baseball Team. He is also the guy who convinced me to buy the Spokane Chiefs Hockey Team. So in a very real sense, Tom is the one who got the whole ball rolling for us here in Spokane.

Thoughts from Jeff Brodie (SMWW Vice President of Operations)

Tom was one of the funniest, knowledgeable, and genuinely caring individuals I have ever come across. His smile and energy were infectious. He will be truly missed by all who knew him.

Thoughts from Jamie Watson

Received the news that Tom Leip passed away this past Thursday… Tom and I worked together at PGE Park with the Beavers (AAA Affiliate of SD Padres) and Portland Timbers. We became good friends and Tom always had a story to share that kept us laughing. Tom got to know all my 6 kids when they were little and running around PGE Park.

As they grew up, he was a big supporter and fan of their sports careers. He would show up at their soccer matches, baseball games, and there wasn’t anyone I would rather of watched a match with. Tom and I touched base every few months as his work took him around the world. He was always so proud of his wife and kids and always gave me the sitrep for each of them! His hilarious stories about he and his wife running sports teams in Washington were unforgettable classics. Tom was a top-shelf friend, a really wonderful human being and I know he is going to be really missed. Our prayers and thoughts go out to his wife and kids.

Thoughts from Scott Lesser (KOIN 6 CBS/KRCW Portland's CW Sr. Accounts Manager)

Tom, along with Lynn were probably my biggest mentors. Tom got me the job in Jacksonville then sold me on the idea of moving back and working with him at PGE Park... We used to have lunch every few months up until a year ago or so. He always wanted to go to Red Robin for some reason. Ha. I'll never forget that laugh. Make every day count!